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27/10/2017

The fashion differences between

The fashion differences between Ivanka and Melania Trump reveal the truth about their political missions

Melania and Ivanka Trump are two women with fashion experience who have been thrust into the political spotlight thanks to President Donald Trump.

However, the two members of the first family have used their fashion choices to send very different messages to the American people.

When Ivanka Trump took on an unpaid position in the Trump administration, she formally stepped down as CEO of her fashion line. However, the first daughter has continued to wear items from the brand, as well as outfits from other modestly priced brands such as fast-fashion company Zara.

Meanwhile, first lady Melania Trump's outfits tend to be from pricier fashion designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, and Balmain. Melania has scaled back somewhat after her clothing choices sparked criticism (you won't spot her in another $51,000 coat), but the first lady's wardrobe is still notably more expensive than what the first daughter wears during most public appearances.

So, why does it matter? For strategic reasons: both women's clothing represents the constituents they're trying to appeal to.

Ivanka has long served as President Trump's surrogate to appeal to more progressive voters.

On Monday, Ivanka spoke at a town hall on tax reform in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to promote the plan — backed by the GOP and the president — as an "overdue" measure that would assist families. She argued that the tax reform plan would simplify taxes for the middle class and help allow for the expansion of child tax credits, one of her focuses since President Trump's election.

"Every parent has to manage the competing demands of raising a family and their passions, whether it be professional or otherwise, and I, too, had to manage that, but I'm far more fortunate than most and I had help," Ivanka said, according to CNBC.

In keeping with her self-representation as a supporter of women and the middle class, the first daughter wore an outfit that was stylish but somewhat reasonably priced. Her top, by the American designer Staud, is priced at $195. Her skirt is even more reasonable — $49.99from Zara.

The entire event is a pretty effective summary of Ivanka's strategy when it comes to both politics and fashion.

As a founder of a mid-priced fashion line herself, she knows how to balance being both aspirational and relatable. In many ways, the first daughter follows in Michelle Obama's fashion footsteps, though she favors trends to a greater degree, wearing more clothing from fast-fashion icon Zara than the more traditional J.Crew beloved by Obama.

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23/10/2017

What I wore this week: polka dots

What I wore this week: polka dots

Look, if it helps, think of them as stripes that happen to be circular. Because frankly, I don’t know what your problem is. How many striped tops do you have in your wardrobe? Yes, including Bretons. Yup, also including cotton striped shirts. Thought so. Quite a few. So, why so sniffy about polka dots?

I do know why, really, of course I do. Spots are a bit… well, daft. Stripes go faster, spots are dotty. But that’s exactly why they’re fun. Nobody expects us, the grown-up fashionables, with our intelligently sourced, upscale, high-street Scandinavian, day-to-night pieces in muted tones, to wear spots. So, let’s do it.

Spots are happy-making, for a start, and that is the best reason of all. Every wardrobe needs an emotional range. You need the cool, crisp workwear – trousers with sharp creases, stiffened-shoulders – for work. You need the glossy, upbeat Saturday night stuff. But the friendly stuff is just as important. Cheery scarves and gloves, reassuringly plush coats. Spots are your friend, so there’s really nothing to be scared of.

Actually, that’s a lie. Polka dots can go wrong. There is a point where cheerful tips into syrupy, which you need to be mindful of by avoiding cutesy shapes. (I’d avoid a full skirt here, much as I love one.)

A spot with any kind of big shoulder is tricky, unless Danielle Steel Heroine out for Three Martini Lunch is the look you are going for. (With retrospect, I feel I may be channelling this just a teeny tiny bit in my photo here, although that wasn’t the plan. You see? Tricky.)

And Princess Diana may be a hipster style icon these days, but I still can’t hand on heart say that the full-fat 1980s take on the dot which she went in for is likely to work in 2017. A polka dot dress now needs mismatched earrings and a lace-up brogue, not ballet pumps and pearls. This, you see, is the point. What you need to make a polka dot look modern – a brogue rather than a ballet pump, graphic earrings rather than pearls – is the stuff you have already.

You have a polka-dot shaped gap in your wardrobe, so why fill it with another striped top? Square pegs into round holes don’t go, you know.

• Jess wears top, £25, marksandspencer.com. Trousers, £35, by Principles by Ben de Lisi, from debenhams.com. Embellished mules, £99, dunelondon.com

Stylist: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management using Mac and Bumble and bumble.
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19/10/2017

Guo Pei: the Chinese designer who made Rihanna's omelette dress

Guo Pei: the Chinese designer who made Rihanna's omelette dress

Chinese designer Guo Pei had been creating couture for more than 30 years when Rihanna stepped on to the red carpet in an extraordinary yellow cape two years ago. Dubbed the omelette dress for its striking resemblance to brunch, it went viral and made the world notice Guo’s work.

The dress wasn’t designed for Rihanna. In fact, it had been sitting in Guo’s studio for three years when the singer’s team came across it after making inquiries into Chinese couture during the run up to the 2015 Met Gala, the theme of which was China: Through the Looking Glass.

Beijing-born Guo, who turned 50 recently, cut her teeth in fashion design following the Cultural Revolution. As Cathy Horyn explained in the New York Times, her career as a designer “began when there was no fashion in her country”. For the past 20 years, Guo has focused on high fashion, specialising in technical work that is grand in dimension and scale and as intricate as that of any Paris couture house. It’s no wonder that she has appeared at Paris couture week, last year becoming the first Chinese national to do so.The now-famous Yellow Empress cape weighs 25kg, has a 16ft train, features over 50,000 hour’s worth of hand embroidery and took two years to make. The sheer weight of the dress meant that, when it was first shown, at a 2012 show in China, the model made it only halfway down the catwalk before the lights had to be turned off and the show stopped so that she could remove the cape and return backstage.

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